The Conversation section of HBR’s online edition offers an interesting take on the risks associated with business’ tendency to move in packs when it comes to features, services and prices (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/11/the_perils_of_industrial_commu.html). The more cohesive the industry, the author insists (strong trade associations are red flags along with terms like win-win” and coopetition), the less appetite to innovate. And the more vulnerable each member of that association is to an attack from a disruptive business model. Think foreign cars, budget airlines, mobile phones, even traditional news media. A single business bullet can arrive from nowhere, bringing down whole industries. In the days of the buggy whip, the shake-ups might have taken decades. Not so in today’s social media-driven world.
The thinking in this piece is not new. “Marketing Myopia” was coined by Theodore Levitt in 1960 (in HBR’s printed edition). But it’s worth revisiting, especially as our companies continue to scale globally. We have competitive analysis down cold. We can match prices overnight. So what are the vulnerability scanners in our organizations not picking up? Those charged with building and protecting their companies’ short- and long-term reputations are in an excellent position to ask that question.
Chair and Chief Executive Officer
Padilla Spear Beardsley
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